Monday, February 05, 2007

Can We be Sure of Someone Else’s Salvation?

Transcribed from the question and answer session with Zane Hodges that followed his lecture, Once Again James 2, delivered at the 2005 Grace Evangelical Society annual conference. The lecture dealt with the concept of “justification by works” as found in James 2:21-26.

Question from the Audience: This [question] wasn’t what you were speaking about, but it relates. Can we ever be sure of someone else’s salvation? If so, based on what?

Professor Hodges: First John 5:1 says, “Whosoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” And it says that in the context where it is trying to identify the brother that we are to love. I think that has to be understood in the light of Johannine theology, but to believe that Jesus is the Christ is to believe that He is the one who gives eternal life to the person who believes in Him. And, personally, I don’t think there is any grounds for doubting the salvation of someone who apparently with all sincerity and understanding says, “That is what I believe.”

Now I admit that I have met a few people who told me that, and I didn’t think that was really what they really believed, so I had some doubts about that. But most of the people that I meet and interact with can easily convince me they’re saved by saying, “Yes, I know I’m going to heaven because I believed in Christ, and He’s given me eternal life.” And unless they’re the best liars in the world, I think they’re brothers.

Follow-up Question: Just a follow-up on that, what would lead you to question a person if that is what they affirmed? What in those situations made you question that?

Professor Hodges: Well I knew a little bit about the person and the circumstances under which the person was talking to me, so I had suspicions… They were telling me, I think, what they thought I wanted to hear…That does happen. People are capable of that, but, you know, how often does that happen? To me it hasn’t happened very much, but it has happened a couple of times.